In the accounts of disaster of the early modern period, it seemed as though the heroes were missing, replaced by the anthropomorphic rage of the natural elements. Nevertheless, it did sometimes happen that singular figures emerged from the blurry mass of the people and their dramatic anecdotes, and sprang into action to address the emergency. Sometimes they were saints, sometimes local institutions: the former were invoked to mediate with heaven to placate divine anger through miracles, and the latter to manage the catastrophe and provide aid and relief.
The chapters in this volume reflect on this composite phenomenon of salvific actions, especially when they assumed the character of heroic gestures suspended between reality and fiction, human and divine, ordinary and extraordinary.
Cover illustration: Anonymous, St Gennaro Halts the Lava of Vesuvius (detail), from Nicolò Carminio Falcone, L’intera istoria della famiglia, vita, miracoli, traslazioni e culto del glorioso martire S. Gennaro, Naples, nella stamperia di Felice Mosca, 1713
Milena Viceconte, Gennaro Schiano and Domenico Cecere
People, Institutions and Saints: A Linguistic Analysis of Relazioni on the 1631 Eruption of Vesuvius
“The Hand of God” in News Pamphlets on Disasters of Natural Origin: Lexical and Discursive Strategies
Maite Iraceburu Jiménez
“Tú sola siempre nuestro amparo has sido”: The Prayer to the Virgin in the Llanto de Menardo by Duarte Núñez de Acosta
A Virgin from the Sea: The Mercedarians and the Cult of the Madonna di Bonaria, Protector of Seafarers
Ramon Dilla Martí
The Other Hero: Viceroy Monterrey in Literary and Figurative Sources on the 1631 Eruption of Vesuvius
Pro serenitate Public Prayers During the Floods of the Guadalquivir in the 17th Century: A Study Using Relaciones de Sucesos
Beatriz Álvarez García
Heroes at the Epicentre: Our Lady and Saints in the Earthquakes of the Hispanic Monarchy (16th-17th Century)
Narrating the 1687 Lima Earthquake: Institutions and Devotions in the Face of Catastrophe
“In segno della recevuta gratia”: St Angelus, Protector of Licata from Plague, Storms and Natural Catastrophes